Whether you’re someone who’s trying to bulk up in size, gain some lean mass or simply lose weight, I bet that you have heard, people bang on about how important it is to eat well. For people trying to gain weight, it make sense to eat more meals throughout the day. However, for someone who’s trying to lose fat, eating 5-6 times a day doesnt really make much logic, as this surely will rev up your metabolism?
Well, I am about to blow your mind, its not true. Meal frequency is just a common misconception that we have been mislead to believe. No matter what you saw on TV, read in magazines, or even heard from fitness “gurus”, it’s all really just a big myth made by supplement companies and magazines. The only actual benefit to eating this many times a day is to supress hunger.
Don’t get me wrong, getting all your proper nutrients is an important part of being fit, but that’s just a well balanced diet. You need to consume the macronutrients (fats, carbs, and proteins) making up the correct calories that your body needs to perform, whether it’s eating over your calorie maintenance to gain weight or eating below maintenance to lose weight. If you can’t satisfy your macronutrient requirements in 3 or 4 meals, then go right ahead and eat as many meals as you want. But what we’re talking about here is the IMPORTANCE of meal frequency and nutrient timing. If you are someone who follows this notion that you NEED to eat 5,6, 7, or 8 times a day to reach your ideal physique, it’s time for you to learn the truth.
The number of times you eat in a day is unimportant. The idea that you need to eat a meal rich in protein every 2-3 hours to feed your muscles constantly throughout the day is nothing but a myth. Timing your nutrient intake has been scientifically proven to be unnecessary. What is important, though, is hitting your total daily macronutrient and calorie requirements. For example, if you need to eat 200 grams of protein per day, then eat 200 grams of protein per day. There’s no need to worry about what time you eat your meals or how much protein you eat at each one. As long as you eat hit your total macronutrient and calorie requirements at the end of the day, you’re perfectly fine.
Got a shift at work and can’t eat for more than 6 hours? That’s fine. Just make sure that you eat enough before and after work so you consume your macronutrient requirements. Got classes for 4 straight hours? No worries. Eat before and after your classes. Yes, you might get really hungry because you haven’t eaten but the point is that your muscles won’t fall off and you won’t gain any fat just because you didn’t eat. What’s important is how much you have consumed by the end of the day.
Keep in mind though that just because meal frequency is irrelevant doesn’t mean you’re only going to eat 1 or 2 meals a day now. I still try and eat at least 3 meals per day. If I’m hungry and have some time to eat a meal, I will. There’s no reason to not eat multiple meals a day just because meal frequency is unimportant.
Although nutrient timing is not important, you still have to make sure that you have energy when you hit the weights. My advice on this is simple: you should have a pre-workout meal an hour before you hit the weights.
Everybody’s metabolism is different so understand your metabolic rate and how it responds to food intake. Food is fuel at the end of the day, so make sure your supplying the correct fuel and your body will respond by performing.
And when it comes to the importance of pre-workout vs. post-workout meals, it’s not really a big deal what what types and how much food you take in post-workout since the pre-workout nutrient intake has a carry-over effect into the post-workout period. There’s a constant overlap of nutrient digestion and absorption throughout the day.
So you are either opening up to the idea that you can achieve results is less meal counts, but if not the go and do your own research and Sports Degree on this topic. Spending ours in the University Library, reading Journals and Case Studies.They also talk a little about the science part of it just in case you wanted to know. So go on, give it a go.